Updated: Aug 3, 2020
As Christians it's so easy to give thanks when things go our way!
Got a new job? Thank God!
Got a new car? Thank God!
Got a new house? Thank God!
These responses follow a usual human pattern of consumerism, and are often woven into how we view and accept God's dominion and disposition as believers.
We always give thanks for the rewards of following God, yet often choose not to reflect upon the things that afflict us.
After all, good things are naturally a symptom of a good God. Good fathers always bring the best gifts for their children, as God never fails to produce miracles that give us a glimpse of his power, and compassion for us. However, the provision of these great gifts often makes us assume this is what God looks like: luxury, security, and sometimes even currency (money).
But what happens when things aren't always going so well?
Lost your job? Thank God?
Lost a loved one? Thank God?
Struggle with addiction? Thank God?
My guess would be giving thanks it isn't the first thing that comes to your mind.
No, instead it's probably quite the opposite. You scoff at the thought of a dwindling bank account, and grow angry at the thought of not being valued by a company, or by your friends! or WORST OF ALL, you lose your self-worth in your net worth, because your financial situation crumbled as markets fell.
Unfortunately, we don’t seem to realize that our removal from these blessings, might be the exact situation God has put forth for our lives. Sometimes he does this because we prioritize the blessing over the God who provided them, as he has to deliver us from our complacency, our comfort, and our consumeristic tendencies in order to align us with our spiritual purpose.
It makes me think of Jesus when it was time for him to go to the cross.
He has just gotten done performing great miracles, true blessings from God!
He fed the hungry, Thank God!
He resurrected the dead, Thank God
He healed the sick, Thank God!
All these miracles should bring praise and glory to God, as there is no disputing that these are important examples of mercy and provision. However, we must not forget the suffering Jesus endured before his greatest miracle of all.
Whipping, torture, verbal assault, the nails through the hands, the lack of oxygen on the cross, and the broken heart Jesus experienced were very real, and we can only imagine how dreadful they must have felt! As a matter of fact, these tactics were so harsh that Jesus prayed in the garden at Gethsemane to be spared from the pain that would follow, which brings us to the point:
This all happened to the Messiah, and to God himself. Yet the Father allowed it, and as a matter of a fact he PLANNED it! Despite Jesus's request for another way, Jesus willing embraced affliction as part of God's will in his life. God took Jesus from his comfort and fleshly desire to be spared, to set up the greatest miracle of all time on Easter Sunday!
So that begs the question, why is it that we as sinners only expect comfort and wealth, when even the Son of God was not spared from agony and suffering?
Why is it that we thank God only for the miracles in our life, and never give thanks for the obstacles?
Why is it that we don’t see a greater purpose in our suffering, the way Jesus did at Calvary?
Why do we lack forgiveness for those who afflict us, when we are easy to forgive ourselves for often far worse?
You see, when we look at the cross, we must realize the bigger picture. The pain and suffering that Jesus experienced was planned! It was a necessity and had to happen for Jesus to pull off the miracle of Easter. His pain, and his death set the stage for him to overcome!
So, stop looking past your pain, stop looking past your downfalls, and stop ignoring the signs that God is using you EXACTLY as he planned. You will also overcome, and will be used in these times of struggle to glorify the Kingdom of God. We must give thanks for our afflictions in the same way we must give thanks for the cross, because although they bring great suffering, the product of our suffering sets that stage for God's greatest blessings yet!
Remember this, although you may be beaten, scarred, and crucified today, your resurrection comes tomorrow! Thank God throughout the pain you endure for putting you in a position to be used by him, and don't forget to forgive those who caused the pain, as Jesus did to his persecutors.
Stand strong in your faith, and your resurrection will be soon to come!
Writers Note: If you happened to stumble a crossed this article anxious and defeated, I pray peace and blessings upon you! Trials and afflictions CAN and WILL test our patience, our faith, and our innermost peace. As someone who has dealt with extreme anxiety, I know this first hand, and as you go through life, I would love to walk alongside you as a fellow sufferer and more importantly a fellow overcomer!
“These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.”- Jesus Christ